Aussies struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living have one more thing to worry about this winter: soaring energy bills. From July 1, bills could jump by 20 per cent, putting pressure on already-strained hip pockets.
But as we break records for early freezes across the country, there are three cost-cutting opportunities which helped slash my last winter energy bill by 35 per cent. Implement them today and avoid bill shock this winter.
Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:
1. Harness the handouts
There was a widely supported move to ease the pain of electricity price hikes in the recent budget: the announcement of up to $500 in immediate power bill rebates. As many as 5.5 million households in receipt of some kind of Centrelink benefit (and 1 million businesses) will collect the relief next financial year, from a federal/state partnership. There will be cut-price loans available for heat-keeping house modifications like double glazing, too.
In his budget announcement, Treasurer Jim Chalmers was also pained to point out that the imposition of price caps on suppliers last year kept tariffs around 30 per cent below where they would otherwise be.
2. Give your supplier the cold shoulder
When it comes to cost, some providers are far better than others - just because a couple have recently folded doesn’t mean there aren’t inexpensive options available. For example, there are electricity providers charging just above $2,000 a year to power a high-usage family home with a pool of four residents or more (and solar panels).
There is a free government website operated by the Australian energy regulator called energymadeeasy.gov.au, that lets you find the best supplier for your circumstances – your postcode, the number of people in your house and your usage.The comparison site drills right down into whether you have solar panels, a smart meter and/or a controlled load (which means separately metered electricity for a specific appliance, such as a hot water system).
Now the frenzy of introductory discounts has died off… the discounts have too. For example, if you signed up for two years at 25 per cent off, you might now be paying over the odds. So it pays to shop around.
3. Keep the warmth cheap
The main consumption culprits are your drier and heating. Drying clothes in the sun instead of the clothes dryer saves a fortune. The sunlight can also help with heating too - let in as much sunlight as possible during the day then shut the house up tight before the sun goes down. You can layer up, drink hot drinks and even bust out hot water bottles… anything it takes to avoid turning on your reverse cycle air-conditioner.
And if you have to turn it on, drop the temperature - dropping down to 20 or 22 degrees makes a significant cost saving.
And did you know that appliances might be responsible for up to 30 per cent of your energy bill? The size, number and energy efficiency of big appliances makes a major difference. Consider turning off your second fridge or hibernating your deep freezer for a winter. Even turning off appliances that are plugged in but ‘idlying’ can shave as much as 10 per cent off your power outlay.
Then it’s down to your personal habits (and those of your family/housemates). We know to switch lights off as much as possible but ditching your halogen lighting for LEDs could save up to 80 per cent on lighting.
Cut back now and avoid the bill chill this winter.